Book Review: SCRUM

Scrum is a lightweight framework designed to help small, close-knit teams of people develop complex products.

I was assigned this book as one of the “texts” for my content strategy and social media class. This is my favorite class of the semester, so I ordered all the books and have been excited about diving in and reading them (which is odd, because I typically don’t read textbooks), but I feel this class is super pertinent to what I hope to do when I graduate. With that being said, it is important to realize that I read this book without any prior knowledge on SCRUM methods or any understanding of what Agile even is.

From what I read, I gathered that SCRUM are methods based off of Agile, that helps small teams get stuff done. The author uses the methods in terms of software production, but claims it can be implemented for any line of work. The title calls this a breathtakingly brief introduction and brief it was: less than 50 pages!

I liked that it was small, so reading it didn’t feel so daunting and overwhelming. The author also uses very concise writing as to not clutter and drone on and on. I feel in a lot of works where someone is trying to explain a system they overthink it and in the end explain to much, but I this was short and to the point which is a great example for technical communication.

Two ideas they showcase in the SCRUM model that I want to implement in my own work as well as any teamwork I am assigned in the future are the task board and the definition of done. The task board is a simple way of categorizing items: to do, doing, and done. I kind of already do this, but I just think it is an easy and useful way to keep everyone on the same page. If all the items for a project are on that board then no one can say they didn’t know it needed to be done or was already completed. The definition of done was an important one to me, because the author talks about how different people feel like a project is considered done at different stages. He recommends discussing this idea with everyone and coming to a common conclusion as to when the project will be done.

My only complaint or minor irritation about this introduction to SCRUM was the need to call things multiple different names. For example: backlog items or user story. They used these interchangeably throughout the whole book and it confused me. I think that in such a concise method, the same terminology needs to be used throughout books on the topic as well as execution in the field. They talk about users and “story time,” so calling the items user stories makes more sense to me, although I still do not fully understand how a user story actually works or should be worded.

Bottom Line: For an extremely quick and concise introduction to simple methods, this book was easy to read and pretty easy to understand. I feel like I have basic knowledge on the SCRUM system now and am ready to begin implementing it into my work. Although it is a small book and a quick read, I recommend taking your time and really trying to visualize how these methods work and can be executed in your own line of work. I would recommend this for anyone who frequently works in teams or is struggling to stay on task and execute projects.

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Book Review: Small Great Things

Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.

Because of school and other stuff going on in my life, I have not only not had the time needed to be the reader I used to be, but I can’t sit still and focus long enough to finish a book. I was literally counting down the days until Jodi Picoult’s newest book came out. At last Small Great Things was finally available to us (in October I think) and I ran out to the store to get it. I was full of all this hope that Picoult’s most recent book was going to get me out of my slump and renew my reading obsession.

While Small Great Things didn’t jump start my obsession for reading, it did give me some much needed highs. I was all about this book for a couple weeks and then life got in the way and then a couple weeks ago I was on a plane and just powered through. Although this did not become my new favorite Picoult novel, I would put it at maybe fourth or fifth. To my dismay, I found this novel to be one of the most predictable novels she has ever written. I typically look forward to the crazy twist endings that always blow my mind, but I managed to guess the ending to this one fairly early, but that doesn’t mean her goal for writing this book was not achieved, because it was!

Small Great Things absolutely opened my eyes to the way I view race as well as the way I view racism in my own life. 

Without giving anything away – Small Great Things is a book about Ruth Jefferson, a black neonatal nurse in New England. One day, Ruth is assigned to a couple who has just given birth to a baby boy. Ruth goes in to tend to the family and to her dismay is not treated respectfully and is asked to get her superior. After the couple speaks to her supervisor, Ruth is taken off the case and a note is placed in the baby boy’s file saying no black employees may touch this child. Well Ruth is the only black employee at the hospital. Not too long later, the hospital is understaffed and the nurse who was assigned to the baby boy’s case has to rush to surgery for an emergency c-section, so she asks Ruth to watch over the baby boy after his circumcision expecting to be back ASAP. Unexpectedly, the baby boy goes into cardiac arrest and Ruth has to decide whether she is going to try and save his life or do what the note in his file requests. Ruth attempts to save his life, but the baby boy dies anyway. The couple blames Ruth and sues her. With the help of a white public defender, Ruth fights not only for her life, but for the truth to be heard and for race to play a factor in the courtroom.

Reading this book as a white person, I felt very self-aware and found myself becoming defensive at certain points, especially during the jury dury portion of the novel. Then I would feel guilty for feeling defensive. This novel forced me to be honest with myself about how I behave toward people who look different than me and understand that I become defensive because I may not purposely act this way. I related very closely with Kennedy, the white public defender, in respect to how she views herself in relation to people of a different race and her realization at the end of the novel also resonated with me. Ruth and Kennedy’s relationship/friendship was refreshing as well and provided me a few smiles, because it was very honest.

Bottom Line: I would definitely recommend this book, especially to white people. I feel that Picoult brings up some great points and food for thought on how we think about ourselves in regards to race. It is an eye-opener and I think it really benefited me and that it will definitely benefit others in helping us try and put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

Something Borrowed: On the Page vs. On the Screen

At my local used bookstore, I found Emily Giffin’s novel, Something Borrowed, in the clearance section for $1. This was QUITE a steal, because I instantly fell for this book. I finished it in a few days and then ran out to get the movie. As in most cases, I found the book to be significantly better, but both were lots of fun!

something borrowed bookLast summer, I read Love The One You’re With by Emily Giffin and wasn’t very impressed, so I was a bit hesitant to pick up another novel by her, not to mention a novel about cheating. BUT I gave in (because it was a dollar!!) and am so glad that I did.

Something Borrowed was a delight to read! The main character, Rachel, literally made me laugh out loud. She was so relatable for any smart, awkward girl, but also I could identify with her, because I have also had multiple best friends who overshadow me and are obnoxious and selfish.

After finishing the book, I decided to read some reviews and was blown away by how many did not like the book. I found it hard to believe they didn’t enjoy it, but was more blown away by the things they said about Rachel and Dex. Most of these reviews were angry with the how things played out, but how could you? The premise of the book is that a woman slept with her best friend’s fiance and then started falling for him…. so that plot is to be expected. I despised the best friend, Darcy. I found her to be an awful friend and a disgustingly self-centered human being. I didn’t like her from the very first page and didn’t feel bad for her in the least.

I’ll be honest, I rooted for Rachel and Dex the entire time. I found him to be handsome and smart and sincere. Yes, he and Rachel were in the wrong and cheating is definitely not something I want to be a part of, but the situation was all kinds of messed up. Yes, Dex should have called it off way sooner, but Darcy wasn’t innocent during this whole debacle which is important to remember.

I really liked the ending (the whole book really!), just swooning and smiling and getting all giddy. I especially loved Ethan and Hillary, who kind of set the friendship into perspective. We all need friends who will just tell it like it is, but also let us make our own decisions.

When you pick up Something Borrowed, you understand the storyline. The back synopsis tells you it is about cheating and a rocky friendship, so don’t act so shocked that it happens. Try and put yourself in Rachel’s shoes… I very much enjoyed this book and will most likely read it again someday!

something borrowed movieThe movie adaptation wasn’t bad, especially for a romantic comedy. The basic plot was the same with some of the finer details left out or changed, but I feel like that really made the movie take a hit, because those were the details that made the book so hilarious.

I felt Ginnifer Goodwin was a PERFECT choice for Rachel, because she plays that innocent, good girl act so well and she is gorgeous! But Kate Hudson was a PERFECT pick for Darcy, because she plays the too-beautiful, obnoxious, best friend character so well (remember Bride Wars?). And Colin Egglesfield was very handsome and very likeable.

One change I had a problem with was the way Marcus and Claire were portrayed. I know I didn’t mention them in the book synopsis, because they weren’t necessarily key characters, but they completely altered their personalities and I found them to be completely unlikeable or relatable and downright ridiculous. They made Marcus into a manchild and someone who Rachel would never go for and they changed Claire into this psycho-obsessive girl… it just didn’t make sense. Ethan, Rachel’s male best friend, was a great add in. In the movie, Ethan’s character was a mix of Ethan and Hillary in the book, but I feel this change really worked. It didn’t really take away from either character and still flowed with the storyline.

If you were to watch it without having read the book, you would probably really like it. Not really one to watch all the time, but it provides a few laughs. It is a fun, guilty-pleasure story, because no one really wants to condone cheating, but in this case you kind of just have to accept it and root for them. Overall, not a bad adaptation.

❤ a girl

In the Criminal Justice System there are Names My Sisters Call Me

So this title might have confused you a little bit, so I shall explain. This past week I managed to complete all sixteen seasons of Law and Order: SVU on Netflix and finished reading Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane.

Names My Sisters Call MeI was given this book from a friend who was cleaning out her bookshelf. She couldn’t remember when she had gotten it or if she had read it, but let me take it off her hands. I liked the cover a lot, but wasn’t quite sure what it was about from the synopsis, but figured why not give it a shot.

BEST DECISION EVER! This book had me hooked from the first few pages. I was continuously cracking up and somehow found a way to relate even though I only have a brother. Reading this really was a treat!

The main character, Courtney, was fantastic! She would have these moments that I can only describe as Lizzie McGuire moments where you could just see a little animated her expressing her inner thoughts. She was hilarious and I identified with her on so many levels. I liked the lesson towards the end of the book and I actually felt all the characters were well thought out and important.

It was a cute chick-lit story, but went deeper than I was expecting. Definitely recommend to anyone with sisters or who loves chick-lits and needs a good laugh.

law and order svuLaw and Order: SVU is one of my all-time favorite shows. I was introduced to it when I was hanging out with my old children’s minister. I was hooked from the first episode and just fell in love. It was what got me into my interest of law and I even joined my high school mock trial team, because of it.

In the beginning I was a huge fan of the Benson and Stabler duo! They were kicking butts and taking names; Finn and Tutuola were just fun additions. They were a great team and I just couldn’t get enough of the sickening stories.

Some people seem to get tired of the stories, because they are all too similar, but it never phased me. I especially loved the episodes that were law heavy, because the court scenes were kick ass!! Alex Cabot was my favorite attorney, but Barba was rubbing off on me in the last couple seasons.

After completing the first 12 seasons a couple years ago, I boycotted the show, because I was bitter that Stabler left and they replaced him with Amaro who was from Cold Case and that cross just weirded me out. A few weeks ago I caved and needed a good law show and just decided to finish it up. Glad I did! I know the show has to end sometime, but it is just so good and the stories are so horrifying, but it is addicting.

Now I am on my journey to completing all of my previously started shows on Netflix that I never finished. First up, Gilmore Girls.

❤ a girl